|*About Bobbing Around
guidelines for contributions
*From me to you
*Responses to past issues
*What my friends want you to know
*A bit of fun
I am responsible for anything I have written. However, where I reproduce contributions from other people, I do not necessarily endorse their opinions. I may or may not agree with them, but give them the courtesy of a forum.
Bobbing Around is COPYRIGHTED. No part of it may be reproduced in any form, at any venue, without the express permission of the publisher (ME!) and the author if that is another person. You may forward the entire magazine to anyone else.
From me to you
Please spend 5 minutes on this survey
A few readers have gently hinted that Bobbing Around has too much content: more than they have time for, even in several sittings.
Having the handicap of scientific training, I want to check things out before making changes. So, I’d be grateful for answers to a few questions. I’ll choose one respondent via Random.org to receive a free copy of my CD Healing Scripts.
Fun at Creative Collectives
I’ve had the pleasure and honour to be one of the presenters at Creative Collectives’ first weekend “school of self-sufficiency” course. I am writing this on the train, going home after a fantastic weekend.
I’ve made new friends, and had considerable fun.
Everyone joined in on all the activities, so I attended 8 sessions run by other people, as well as running my own 2 hours. The offerings ranged from yoga (very challenging for me!) through listen-talk-and-think sessions like mine, practical hands-on skills training, to fun like making a bush hammock from bits of branches and some rope.
My topic was “Moving the opinions of climate change deniers.” I offer this course through the internet (see http://mudsmith.net/workshops.html), and this weekend was my first chance to present it face to face. I am relieved to say it got a very good reaction, and I received a lot of positive feedback from my audience.
I was amused by one thing: the most frequent word used by people at the weekend was “awesome.” It is actually apt, because the attendees uniformly said they’d learnt a lot, and enjoyed themselves even more.
I want to thank Kate and Ralph for the way they looked after me and ran the event. And I wish all my new friends a good life.
Cliches define a culture
If you’ve read past issues of Bobbing Around, or indeed much of my other writing, you’ll know that I consider it essential to change global culture from greed and conflict to compassion and cooperation. As a step along the way, I’ve started a project of defining this new culture through what we need “common sense” to be.
Please go to the relevant web page and make your suggestions. Everyone who does so has earned a free short story. The list is on the page.
The 4 r-s of sustainable usage
I have posted a new page to this blog, with this title. Please look at it when you have the time, and leave a comment.
Learning the piano as an old fella
I played the piano, if only a little, as a youngster, but I’ve let it go so long ago that I am a beginner again. Well, as part of the luxury of retirement, we’ve just bought an ancient, second hand electronic organ and I am keen to start.
Looking around the internet, I came acrosshttp://www.pianonanny.com, which is clear, easy to follow, and even fun. Should you want to follow me, follow me to this web site.
I’ve just returned after a 10 day meditation retreat that has had wonderful results for me. You can read about it.
Responses to past issues
I enjoyed looking through your Bobbing Around newsletter and website again. I have read a few articles in this latest issue and there are some more I will get to.
However, I feel a little awkward, though just wish to point out that you have misspelt ‘Alcohemy’ a number of times and wondering if it isn’t too late to correct them.
Thanks again for all your support.
I have done as David asked, as you will see if you read my review of his book. The title is ALCOHEMY, not alcochemy.
How are you? Long time no talk! About 11 years! This is Jim Chu in Hong Kong. Remember “The Simple Science of Being”? 🙂
Well, I am still hanging in here in Shenzhen, the city just north of Hong Kong. And I am still working on The Simple Science of Being. After teaching this method to some friends, a few found it to be extremely useful and solved most of their personal problems with it. I am now certain that this methodology will be extremely useful in creating a peaceful world of tomorrow. That will be my mission until I die.
Meanwhile, I still want to introduce this course into all the schools in Hong Kong. Of course, I still don’t know how to do that yet.
I recently decided to put out an ebook version of the old book, and it is now available on Amazon’s site.
Since 2003 when you edited the book for me, I have simplified the logic flow a lot, and have written a Chinese version of the book. I am now planning to update my English version and write a 2014 Edition of it. When I finish, I will need your editing skill again!
I am so glad that your web site is still functioning. Please make a note of my new email address. Let’s stay in touch.
Thank you for the personalized editing you did for my manuscript, The Convict and the Rose. Because of your attention to detail, not just to grammar and punctuation, but to content as well, my story is ready for the reader.
I greatly appreciate all of the comments and suggestions you made and I have learned from all of them. Your expert feedback is invaluable to me as a writer.
I highly recommend your services to anyone who is considering publishing a book. Professional editing at an affordable price is hard to come by in this growing industry and that is exactly what you offer and deliver.
As a token of my gratitude, once The Convict and the Rose is published, I would love to mail you a copy (either print copy or e-book), whichever you prefer. Thank you so much.
Jan Sikes writes true stories in a creative and entertaining way. Her current project is a trilogy which chronicles her life with Rick Sikes. She also releases music CDs of original music with each book.
Speak up for Tasmania’s rainforests
Dear friends of the rainforests,
Some of the mightiest broad-leafed trees in the world can be found in the forests of Tasmania. The landscape and its archaeological sites are unique, which is why nearly a quarter of the island is under UNESCO protection. The Australian government, however, wants to strip 74,000 hectares of its safe status as a World Heritage Site.
In June 2013, the previous Australian government expanded the Tasmanian Wilderness Heritage Area by 170,000 hectares to a total of 1.58 million hectares, or 6,100 square miles.
Prime Minister Abbott has now called for 74,000 hectares of the site to be delisted, asserting that the areas are not worthy of protection. Conservationists are alarmed and disagree strongly. 90 percent of the area in question is pristine forest.
Thanks for being involved,
The Koch Brothers are one of the most destructive forces on this planet. They do their best to race us toward species suicide and ecosystem murder. This is not a hyperbole or exaggeration. There is plenty of evidence.
Here is a brief summary of some of their recent actions, and a listing of the products sold by Koch Industries. I am sure the list is incomplete, because there are legal ways of hiding investments, but boycotting these products is a good start.
Raise the minimum wage
from Robert Reich
My name until 17 years of age was Robert Reich, so I’ve got to approve of this bloke.
A few years ago, the producers of “Inequality for All” came to me with the idea for a documentary about income inequality. I didn’t know how it would turn out but I knew I had to do it.
Last night, I witnessed the culmination of our film’s purpose in the passion of thousands of DFA members gathered at more than 700 “Inequality for All” Watch Parties across America. It was an amazing “movement moment” and I was thrilled to be a part of it — and I know Sen. Elizabeth Warren was as well.
“Inequality for All” revealed how the size and scope of the wealth gap in America is shocking, immoral, and unsustainable. We learned what we are up against, and that’s a big first step towards leveling the playing field for working families.
Now, we need to take the next step together and bring this fight to Main Streets everywhere. Through YouPower, Democracy for America’s petition platform, you can start petitions to fight for real change on any issue that matters to you — in just a matter of minutes. That makes it the perfect tool to kick this movement into high gear.
Bob, will you start a YouPower petition today to raise the minimum wage and help us bring the battle against income inequality?
Former Secretary of Labor
Well, I don’t live in America, but many of my readers do. Go for it!
New report on how not to save the environment
from Christine Milne
The Australian government has an ingenious plan for dealing with carbon emissions: pay bribes to the big polluters. A Senate inquiry into the concept has just published its report. Christine Milne, the leader of the Greens, says the inquiry is not impressed. The plan is worse than doing nothing.
There are alternatives to detention
These are outlined in a series of brief statements from refugee advocates in New Internationalist.
There is no justification for inhumane treatment of those who flee their country.
Groups of decent people everywhere are doing their best to right the wrongs perpetrated by their governments. One is the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group. They need your support.
An answer to a denier
Fish getting smaller
Methane unfreezing: a graphical summary by John James
Australia’s record cooking from Tim Flannery
75 Percent of Rain and Air Samples Contain Roundup Pesticide by Kevin Mathews
The pitfalls of resource wealth
Sea level rise on the rise
Drowned treasures of the future
What do Condoms Have to do With Climate Change?
An answer to a denier
I am involved in an online discussion in which one person sings an eternal song: yes, climate is changing, but the evidence that it’s human-caused is dubious. Here is my latest answer to him:
1. It’s preposterous to say there is no good evidence supporting human actions as the cause of climate change. IPCC 5 said the probability of it doing so exceeds the 95% confidence level. An explanation of what that means is readily available on the web. It is worth noting that IPCC conclusions are deliberately very conservative. For a finding to make it into their calculations, it needs to be super-crossvalidated, and more. If the criterion for inclusion were relaxed to the level usual in most scientific discussion, the conclusion would without doubt exceed the 99% level of confidence.
That is to say, if the question were examined by a court of law, the judgment would be “beyond reasonable doubt:” the criterion that condemns people to even the most severe penalties.
2. There is also theoretical validity. A theory, developed in the 1860s, has been tested by observation so often that it is beyond doubt. It is as accepted for fact as, for example, the germ theory of infectious disease. This is that large-sized molecules in gaseous form are transparent to radiant energy in the wavelengths we perceive as light, but have some degree of opacity to longer-wavelength radiation, which we perceive as heat. The larger the molecule, the more opaque the gas is to radiant heat. So, Oxygen and Nitrogen have only a small greenhouse effect. CO2 has much more. Methane (CH4) has about 100 times that of CO2 over the short range, but because it breaks down, its 100 year multiplier is “only” 25. Larger molecules like cholorofluorocarbons have many more times the greenhouse effect than CO2. Some have 7000 times as much.
Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, we have been pumping huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere by burning up oil, gas and coal, by extracting minerals from carbonate rocks, by making cement and lime.
We have also liberated very much methane, for example from gas leaks in city gas reticulation systems. Since 2011, it has been reliably observed that we have started liberating the incredible amounts of CO2 and CH4 locked up in permafrost and as methane hydrates.
We have invented, manufactured on a large scale, and released into the atmosphere a devil’s brew of large molecules, many of them with no natural precedent.
How can anyone choose to believe that these processes have NOT added to the greenhouse effect?
If you understand the theory, you don’t even need evidence. It’s obvious. But the evidence is there, as I stated in point 1.
3. Climate change is not a problem in itself, but only the most serious symptom of a more general problem, which is unlimited growth in a limited system. If by magic we could make climate change go away, unlimited growth would still kill us. Not in the distant future, but now. It is happening.
So, even if I believed that human action was not responsible for climate change, I’d still be motivated to make the changes to culture that are implied by the need to address global warming. There is nothing to lose but widespread human misery.
Fish getting smaller
A nice bit of historical research has major environmental implications. A series of photographs shows it all. Read the report at Daily Kos.
In my workshop on moving the opinions of climate change deniers, one of the three mechanisms I describe for what enables denial as adaptation: what is feel as if it had always been that way, even in the midst of rapid change. This is a perfect example.
Methane unfreezing: a graphical summary by John James
John James has contributed to Bobbing Around before. His posts are always accurate, full of information and easy to understand. He has produced a PDF document that explains the danger from the methane that has been locked up in the north for 11,000 years, and is NOW being released. You can think of this as a support document for my essay, But there is no need for despair.
Australia’s record cooking
from Tim Flannery
Australia’s Prime Monster Tony Abbott’s first act was to refuse funding to any organisation that provided evidence of climate change. As if lack of information would make the facts go away…
The Climate Council of Australia was crowd-funded and is going strong. Poor Tony: the information is still coming. Here is their report on 2013: The Angry Summer. It has a very powerful picture (too large to reproduce here) and useful information.
Even if you live elsewhere, do note that we all live on the same planet. What is happening in Australia is relevant to you.
75 Percent of Rain and Air Samples Contain Roundup Pesticide
by Kevin Mathews
Despite the clout Monsanto and other big companies carry, the evidence is trickling out that Roundup and similar poisons have very serious health effects. Now there is evidence that rain and air carry significant amounts of these chemicals.
If you don’t like the thought of this, sign this petition.
The pitfalls of resource wealth
Natural resource wealth isn’t always a blessing; sometimes it can be just the opposite. That’s the warning for Australia that comes through loud and clear in the latest edition of the New Internationalist magazine.
As reserves dwindle and demand balloons, resource companies are pushing into more and more remote regions, causing enormous damage to the environment. Just two examples: Canada has put all its eggs into one big disastrous basketful of tar sands; coalmining is ravaging the rainforests of Indonesia.
The drive to exploit resources poses a threat not only to the environment but also to democracy. Governments that depend on mining for revenue and for balanced national accounts inevitably become subject to the wishes of big resource corporations.
It can critically endanger science as well. When Canada’s federally-funded National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy bluntly warned in 2012 that tar sands expansion was incompatible with climate change action, the Harper government shut down the agency, leading to the lay-off of 1,000 researchers and scientists.
There’s an urgent need to develop large-scale green industries in Australia so we don’t lurch further down the Canadian rabbit hole. A good start is to keep up the pressure on our banks and superannuation funds to ensure they are held to account for the impact of their investments in mining. Read more online now.
Sea level rise on the rise
Current average sea level rise is 2 mm a year. Changes observed in Antarctica’s largest glacier, the one on Pine Island, led a group of researchers to predict additional sea level rise of 3.5 to 5 mm from that source alone. The Pine Island glacier in West Antarctica is flowing faster, retreating faster and has cracks on each side as it adds to the sea.
Drowned treasures of the future
The Statue of Liberty… the Sydney Opera House… The leaning tower of Pisa… Westminster Abbey…
If there will still be humans beyond 2100 (something that has a definite chance of not happening), they will need to go scuba diving to see them.
What do Condoms Have to do With Climate Change?
A solution to easing the effects of global climate change may be one that is not often discussed — voluntary family planning.
At a recent talk on “Condoms and Climate” given at the Commonwealth Club of California, leading author Alan Weisman and University of California, Berkeley’s Dr. Malcolm Potts advocated for family planning as a means of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, reports Population Growth.
Weisman noted that every 4.5 days a million people are added to the planet, saying “there is no question humans have become more numerous than nature intended.”
In Potts’ opinion, family planning is the most cost-effective way to reduce carbon and that voluntary family planning services are in demand.
There are 222 million women around the world who want to plan their families, but have an unmet need for modern contraception, he said. Making it available to women and men is estimated to cost $8 billion a year — about a billion dollars more than what Americans spent on Halloween in 2013.
Potts said “when you respect women and give them choices, fertility goes down” and that the world has been “blind and stupid” about not offering family planning to those who want it.
He pointed to Thailand’s success in lowering its total fertility rate in the 1970s. One such effort to reduce it was the innovative Cabbages and Condoms restaurant in Bangkok, started by a man who believed birth control should be as easy as buying cabbage from the market. The restaurant also promotes safe-sex education.
Weisman, who brought the discussion back toward climate change and population growth, stated the problem is simply that we have more people demanding more stuff, resulting in more carbon dioxide.
Last year, carbon dioxide levels hit 400 parts per million. “There hasn’t been this much carbon in the atmosphere in 3 million years,” he said. And with projections that world population will be 9.6 billion by 2050, with more middle and upper class people consuming more stuff, temperatures and carbon levels will continue to rise, according to Population Growth.
Potts believes by heavily investing in family planning, the population could decline to 6 billion by 2099.
In the meantime, addressing the needs of the planet’s 7 billion-plus is a daunting task, especially in terms of food. And even though Norman Borlaug’s Green Revolution averted mass famine in the 1970s, people can’t solely rely on technology to rectify the problem. In fact, Weisman said Borlaug warned this would only buy humanity a little time and that it would have to eventually confront burgeoning population growth.
Weisman, saying a warming world is only going to exacerbate food security, cited a National Academy of Science report statistic that for every one degree of Celsius warming, crop yields drop 10 percent.
Reducing consumption also proves critical, according to Weisman, as he called out the global meat industry for 51 percent of worldwide greenhouse emissions.
Some of the best solutions, said Potts, are universal family planning, investing in girls’ education, raising the age of marriage and ending child marriage.
These are the comprehensive steps that can lower carbon footprints and result in healthier lives and a cleaner, more stable environment, he said.
EcoWatch is a cutting-edge news service promoting the work of more than 1,000 grassroots environmental organizations and activists worldwide, and showcasing the insights of world-renowned environmental leaders. EcoWatch focuses on the issues of water, air, food, energy and biodiversity, and promotes ongoing environmental campaigns including climate change, fracking, mountaintop removal, factory farming, sustainable agriculture and renewable energy. News is provided on a global and local scale. EcoWatch unites the voices of the grassroots environmental movement and mobilize millions of people to engage in democracy in pursuit of a sustainable future.
The whales won!
Solar win-win-win: crowdfunded loans for solar power
Cetaceans are persons too
Vermonters Want to Try a New Way of Banking by Kevin Mathews
How To Ditch Dirty Investments by Brian Brown
European parliament resolves to protect the Arctic
Killer coal caught in Italy
The whales won!
The International Court of Justice has delivered its decision on a dispute between the Australian and Japanese governments. Supposedly scientific research whaling in the Antarctic region is against the ban on commercial whaling.
As we Aussies say sometimes: hoo-bloody-ray!
Solar win-win-win: crowdfunded loans for solar power
Beth Buczynski has reported at Care2.com about a wonderful scheme that allows low income earners to install solar power. The funding is crowdsourced, but it’s a loan with a good return of interest. The company, Mosaic, has so far supplied $6 million. There have been 0 defaults, and payments on time 100% of the time, so if you want to invest a few bucks, join the scheme.
Cetaceans are persons too
Vermonters Want to Try a New Way of Banking
by Kevin Mathews
Vermont is currently considering massive changes in the way it conducts banking by instituting a public bank of its own.
The proposal would give Vermont Economic Development Authority a banking license and allocate it 10% of taxes collected by the state, rather than the current scenario where large banks outside of the state hold (and use) Vermont’s money. With Vermont in control of its own finances, the state could use the money to fund projects that benefit the state and local economies, including granting loans to Vermonters.
More than 20 Vermont towns met this month to weigh the merits of public banking and the response was extremely favorable. By a margin of about 2:1, Vermonters advocated for public banking.
private interest is lobbying hard to block the idea, so their corporate money and clout could prove more influential to legislators.
Vermont citizens also liked the idea of severing ties with Wall Street banks. For example, many Vermonters are disappointed to learn that their money is held by banks that are currently lobbying for the Keystone Pipeline, a project understandably opposed by residents in one of the nation’s greenest states. Additionally, though the bank would turn big profits, that wouldn’t be the sole motivation. For that reason, the state bank would not make risky, economy-crashing investments like the big-name corporate banks.
How To Ditch Dirty Investments
by Brian Brown
The Uniting Church in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory are divesting from fossil fuel. Read the calm, firm yet inspiring essay from Uniting Church Moderator the Rev Brian Brown.
European parliament resolves to protect the Arctic
Greenpeace has reported that the European parliament has passed a resolution to have a Sanctuary in the Arctic, keeping out oil drilling, fishing and other damaging activities. I hope the rest of the world soon follows suit.
Killer coal caught in Italy
Coal is a problem for two reasons: its huge addition to climate change, and its effects on respiratory health. A report from Italy states that a judge has ordered that two coal-fired plants be shut down because of too many deaths in the neighbouring community.
Wind and tidal better than coal and oil
Scotland’s control over a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind and marine energy has helped it become one of the world’s wealthiest nations, according to a new analysis.
The rest of the article is a rather pedestrian economic analysis, rather than focusing on the issue of green energy.
Solar power at its best
Germany’s climate is far less than ideal for solar power. And yet, that country has some of the most magnificent examples of using the sun to run life. Here is a village that puts out 4 times as much power as its needs.
Read the report here.
Why violence? The Calhoun effect
China is the latest location making the news because of insane violence.
In 1962, John Calhoun did an experiment showing the effects of crowding on rats. At the top population density, many males became so territorial they attacked their own females and young, and young males formed gangs that fought to the death.
Irrational violence is one of the ways mammals react to overpopulation. Terrible as it is, it’s one of the homeostatic mechanism Gaia uses to reduce numbers of a particular species.
In Calhoun’s experiment, not every male rat became violent. In human populations, not all of us become violent. There is choice.
But there is hate, discrimination, cruelty and irrationality, because the Calhoun effect is working in humanity.
If we don’t reduce our numbers peacefully, in a planned way, we’ll do it cruelly, terribly and all too efficiently via war and irrational acts of violence.
I have a friend we’ll call Jim, whose wife Angela developed cancer. He was with her, and for her, every instant of the journey, until she died. He cared for her as well as the best mother for her baby.
At her funeral, he got out his guitar, and played a merry tune. When he saw everyone else look shocked, he said, “It’s her favourite. I know she is enjoying it right now.”
A year later, he married another woman, and loved her with just as much devotion. He said, “It’s OK. Angela told me to, before she died, and she approves now.”
Despite loving Angela, fully loving her, Jim hadn’t suffered any more sorrow than if she’d moved to a different continent with no telecommunication possible, or perhaps left on a space ship. He missed her, but didn’t experience the terrible pain of grief.
However, for most of us, grief is the negative side of love. Because we love, we despair when the loved one is irretrievably gone. This pain is normal — its absence usually indicates a lack of ability to love. It is OK to feel grief. It should not be “cured” with therapy, or medicated away, but experienced and honoured.
Grief is like a broken bone. It hurts, and that pain is a good thing (with the fracture, it reminds you to keep it still). Over time, the pain eases, and life goes on. If all goes well, the healing goes through a number of stages until the injury is resolved. Things can go wrong: people can get “stuck in grief” in the same way a fracture can get infected or reinjured.
What is a good resolution to grief?
One, two or even three days a year, you feel sad. This may be the person’s birthday, the anniversary of the death, perhaps Christmas. On those days, the way people put it, “I enjoy feeling sad to honour the memory.”
The rest of the time, life is normal. You can talk about the person, even in a casual way, without stabs of pain. You can look at pictures, or conversely, go through weeks without thinking of the person.
If you have “grieved well,” you become a better person. You will be stronger, knowing that since you have survived this, you can survive whatever else the world can throw at you. You become more compassionate for others, and be motivated to be there for them. This is the silver lining on the usually all too black cloud.
There are people who can shrug off losing someone in their close circle, just being able to dismiss it, whether the loss is due to separation or death. They are the unfortunates who are unable to love. For them, people are interchangeable — very different from Jim.
Jim and they are on opposite ends of the continuum of spiritual development, although superficially it seems like a full circle.
What was the resource that allowed Jim to feel the way he did?
He firmly believes that life is not the end of a book, but the end of a chapter. He is quite matter of fact about knowing that he and Angela had been lovers in previous lives, and is confident that they will be again. So, for him, the loss is as temporary as if she’d gone on an extended trip without him.
In Jim’s case, this is a matter of religious belief, but you can have the same resource without believing in any religion, or even if your religion dismisses the possibility of reincarnation. After all, several major religions, taken literally, state that the earth is flat and the sun moves around it. I don’t know any flat-earthers, although Galileo and Copernicus were persecuted for their findings. In past writing, I have summarised the evidence for reincarnation. It is scientifically hard to dismiss.
So, you can share with Jim the knowledge that, should you lose a loved one, that person is fine, and the two of you will meet again.
These pics will bring good tears to your eyes
The Key to Happiness
by Burc Uygurmen
How can we refute the assertion, “The more we own, the more freedom we have”?
We wake up freer when our quantity of clothes and shoes increases each and every day.
We are also free when we struggle to choose our 185 basic necessities from among those 40,000 products in the supermarket.
When our doctor offers us multiple options for treatment, we are also free to select the less risky one.
During the day, we generally have our laptop on one hand and our smart phone on the other, trying to deal with countless e-mails, phone calls and social media messages.
We seem free, but are we happy? In this world of free choices, are we able to really live in the moment?
Day after day we can watch ourselves turning into someone with more things but less happiness.
I call it “Choice Obesity,” this never-ending obligation to make choices along with the unhappiness that comes from increasing consumption. Considering the similarities in definition and results, don’t you also think that it is as dangerous as obesity?
After spending ten years in sales and marketing roles in both the U.S. and Turkey, in 2012 Uygurmen founded Praktika, a training firm that offers corporate training sessions in the concept of Emotional Branding.
In 2013, he started working with Professor Tom Stein, who is the U.S. manager of IIMP® on the subject of Emotional Branding. Uygurmen also has a book about “appealing to emotions.”
Random acts of kindness
In Buddhist tradition, you earn “credit” by giving.
Jewish tradition has the Mitzvah: a secret act of kindness, the aim of which is to make you into a better person.
Acts of kindness are stones dropped into a pond that spread waves of kindness and decency.
There is an interesting and perhaps challenging op ed piece about it at the BBC.
The joy of creating for others
Gregory Kloehn, a Californian sculptor, has developed a passion for making tiny dwellings for homeless people, free of charge. He uses rubbish, throwaways — and his own skills, creativity and passion.
He makes no money from his hobby, but the rewards are far more bountiful.
Last issue of Bobbing Around also included examples of people acting from the heart. Is this the visible blossoming of the new culture?
Please send me other examples, from your personal experience, your reading, viewing, or from the internet.
Gregory Kloehn working on his latest mini-home, made entirely from discarded beds. Photo Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED
Read the article about him by Mark Andrew Boyer at KQED.
Psychological side-effects of anti-depressants worse than thought
My psychology web site has several pages devoted to the issue of antidepressants. On the basis of the evidence, I have long advocated minimising their use. Now, a new article has been published, with even more reasons to avoid these substances.
When a parent drinks, the child suffers
by Rayne Golay
Rayne has many years’ experience as a drug and alcohol counsellor. She is passionate about protecting children from harm, and is a talented writer. Her book, The Wooden Chair is a gripping read, and is almost a case study in what her latest blog is about.
If you, or someone you care for, has periods of drunkenness, you should visit her blog and read her essay.
I’m 10 and want to kill myself
I was abused, molested, and exposed to things I shouldn’t have been. My mother is on drugs and has an abusive bf who hits her. My big sister is living in a foster home. My dad is in Memphis and steals copper to make money while living with his friend.
My name is Susie. I am 10 yrs old (before I go any further I want to say that my IQ is 132, so I am very mature, meaning I am not being theatrical. I am serious.) and I am having thoughts of suicide. I am beginning to fear myself most of all. When I get a knife in my hand, I get the temptation to slit my wrist or stab my leg. I’ve been through a lot, yet it never seemed to affect me. AT ALL. But now I think it’s starting to get to me. I am living in a very good environment now, so there is nothing to fuel these thoughts, yet I never had them when I was actually being abused, which I can’t understand. There are many dark thoughts running through my head–dark thoughts a 10 year old shouldn’t even know the meaning of. Murder. Blood. Cults. Revenge. Anger. Sadness. Confusion. Desperation. Dissapointment. Hope. The list goes on. I’m afraid to tell anyone about my suicidal thoughts because
A: I’m not very good at explaining serious things without unpurposefully trying to pass it off as a joke.
B: No one ever seems to take me seriously when I try to talk about things like this.
C: If they DO take me seriously, I don’t want them to think I’m crazy or need medical help or anything like that.
I would tell my friends, but you should know that I really can’t–they’d just think I was weird. If I were 15 then my parents might take me seriously, but at the age of ten? That’s a long shot. The temptation to cut myself whenever I get hold of a knife is getting stronger, and I’m afraid that when I’m not thinking, and when no one’s watching, I’ll actually do it. I’m afraid of myself. What do I do? PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!
Do you know how a diamond is formed? A lump of coal is caught in a “volcanic pipe” and is subjected to terrible heat and pressure. Either it gets burned up — or it is turned into a beautiful jewel, the hardest stone known.
I also suffered as a child. I chose to turn into the diamond. You can choose to burn up, or to join me.
From your note, I know a number of wonderful things about you:
1. You are highly intelligent, and know this about yourself. Intelligence is a tool. Use it for your own benefit, and when the opportunity arises, for the benefit of others. A rule of the universe is, “The more you give, the more you get.” I receive immense rewards for giving back to the universe by being there for suffering people like you.
2. The way you wrote about your father tells me that you disapprove of stealing. I’d rather starve than steal. Theft is a way of hurting other people, and that’s always wrong.
3. The way you wrote about your mother tells me that you disapprove of drugs. Drugs, including alcohol, are terrible ways of self-harm, that always affect other people as well.
4. Her boyfriend — you disapprove of violence. Excellent.
5. You are indeed very good at discussing serious things. You did so perfectly well in your short request for help. The problem is that you are better at it than people would expect from a person of your age, particularly when we take prejudice into account. “She comes from a druggo family, what would she know about anything?”
The proper response is to maintain dignity, a sense of humor, belief in your own truth. Set your eye on a shining goal, and then do whatever is necessary to achieve it. Perhaps you can aim for a career in one of the helping professions, such as social work, or child protection. You already have the main qualification: people who have suffered can develop strong empathy, and be highly motivated to relieve suffering by others.
Now, let’s look at the suicidal impulses. Tennessee is one of those backward areas of the planet where the death penalty still exists. OK, someone committed a horrible crime, and after all legal processes have been gone through, he is killed by the State. What horrible crime have YOU committed? You are facing Judge Susie, and she wants to have you killed. Do you think she is right? Do you deserve death?
Of course, the suicidal impulses are more an attempt at running away than punishment. Only, you can never run away. Death is not the end of a book, only the end of a chapter, and after you die, you will find that you’ve taken the misery with you. So, again, you show wisdom in being motivated to resist the urge to harm yourself. But how to do it?
An urge is only effective when you accept it as real. Until then, it is only noise. So, the trick is to treat it as noise. “OK, so I have a thought that I want to stick a knife into myself. What a stupid thought! Now, how strong is this urge? Hmm, about 7/10. I wonder how long it will last before it fades away. It’s 10:36 am now, I’ll monitor it to see when it fades to zero.”
This turns you into an observer, who calmly watches the urge to harm yourself (or anything else).
You said, “I am living in a very good environment now, so there is nothing to fuel these thoughts, yet I never had them when I was actually being abused, which I can’t understand.” This is not unusual. When you were in the war zone, your purpose was practical: survival day to day, moment to moment. Now that you are living in a safe place, you have the leisure to dwell on the past, and of course it can be overwhelming.
Finally, let me address your first statement: that you have been sexually molested. I know you realize that you are not guilty of anything. The center of abuse is the difference in power. As a small child, you had zero power to resist an adult, or to disagree with anything he said or implied.
But survivors of sexual abuse often feel dirty, damaged, faulty, disgusting. In part, this is deliberately planted by the abuser as a form of control, in part it’s a natural reaction of a decent, sensitive kid to sleazy, horrid activities. But it is not true.
When I was a little boy, some bigger boys smeared feces on my face. For many years, I wanted to die every time I thought of it. I did feel dirty and damaged. But you know what? I am clean, and whole, and feel good about being me. They were dirty. I washed the dirt off. I have washed it out of my inner self-evaluation too. You can do the same regarding whatever was done to you.
My dear, you are welcome to email me so we can continue our discussion.
Your new grandfather,
No way out?
I need help!! I’m 22 years old, I’m a student and unemployed yet I have bills to pay which I’m really stressed out. My dad is currently suffering from stroke and my mom needs financial support. I want to help my family and as well pursue my goals in life but it’s really stressful, followed by a horrible relationship with my exbf who had left me recently because “I was too much for him.” I’ve been with my exbf for 4 years and he is my first love. I’ve been contemplating about suiciding for the past 3 yrs because of these stresses. I have no friends, they don’t want to talk to me even if I tried to talk to them. My exbf left me because I have too many bullshits going on. I don’t want to talk to my parents because I don’t want her to worry about me when she’s already worried about my dad and money. For three years of a horrible relationship with my exbf has been called off recently which devastates me. With so much stress already and now a break up, its too much for me.
Just two years ago I tried to commit suicide by overdosing pills. I remember the pain I had from overdosing pills. I couldn’t see well, I couldn’t breathe well, and I was constantly throwing up. I thought if I could just go to sleep, maybe I’ll die. but then the next morning I woke up alive which saddens me. Everything I’m doing is never enough. I cant even kill myself. now I want to at least live but it’s so hard. I talked to my exbf like a hundredth of times when we were still together but because I talked to him, he now left me. I’m constantly thinking about suiciding, I lost interest in my hobbies, I lost my appetite and I lost confidence, I’m about to lose hope. I need help. I know what to do but its just that I’m struggling at it.
As you now know, suicide is not the answer. Actually, even successful suicide is not the answer. Some people died from suicide, then came back to report that they’d taken the pain with them. A Superior Being told them they still had work to do, so they were not allowed to die.
I take such reports with a grain of salt, but all the same, there are so many of them, and with such similarities, that it is hard to dismiss them.
Let us suppose it is true for you. You survived your suicide attempt, because you still have work to do in this life. You have a purpose, a reason you need to be alive.
I don’t know what it is. Actually, you don’t need to know what it is, only that there is meaning in your suffering. In my book “Cancer: A personal challenge,” [http://bobswriting.com/psych/cancerbook.html] I have an inspiring essay by Yvonne Rowan who had recalls from two clinical death experiences. Her life was full of terrible events, but these turned her into a wise, compassionate, strong, wonderful person.
You have the potential for doing the same.
I cannot help you with your problems such as lack of money, your dad’s stroke and mom’s struggles, the attitude of your ex etc. What I can do is to suggest you look on these as opportunities to train your spirit into nobility, inner strength, compassion for others — later, when you are over the hurdle and have achieved a better life.
There is a universal truth: we get back what we send out. All of us respond to challenges sometimes by reacting with self-pity, hopelessness, despair. When we send this out, we get more crap back. An illustration is, when you reacted to your practical misfortunes by dwelling on the negatives, your bf left you. This is not to cast blame, but to show the mechanism.
However, if from now on, you choose to take the attitude, “However terrible my situation is, it is training in inner strength,” then the energy you send out is positive, and the universe will oblige by sending back positives.
When we are in despair, we are no good at solving problems, but keep doing the same things, over and over. If we can become calm and accepting of the situation, we have a better chance of addressing the practical problems in an effective way. For example, suppose you decided to get a job to reduce the financial pressures. If you apply looking radiant, confident, strong, you have a far better chance than if you go red-eyed, with slumped shoulders and a wavering voice.
So, do two things.
First, treat your various sources of distress as problems with solutions to be found.
Second, accept the situation. It is all right. It probably won’t kill me, and if it does, hey, didn’t I want to die in the past? (big grin)
This is the combination that turns your life around, whether it results in the solution of the practical problems or not.
Have a good life (you can),
The W5 Questions to ask before you start to write your non-fiction book by Paul Lima
“Stop Repeating; It’s Redundant,” she said again by Norma Jean Lutz
The W5 Questions to ask before you start to write your non-fiction book
by Paul Lima
Who is my target audience? Who would be most interested in this book? Knowing your reader helps you determine the tone and style of your book and how accessible your material should be.
For instance, I have a book called Copywriting that Sells. While I’d like to think any copywriter might learn from it, my target readers are continuing education students taking copywriting courses. Most of them have limited copywriting experience and have been thrust into positions at work where they are required to write copy.
With my audience in mind, I know I have to cover the rudimentary elements of copywriting (not dumb it down, but start at the ground floor) before I get to examples and exercises that will help them become better copywriters.
What is this book about? What will it cover? There are many types of ads, each requiring a different approach to copywriting. I need to define what I will cover in my book before I start to write it. Since the textbook is for an introductory copywriting course, I focused on print ads and online ads that use text.
In my Harness the Business Writing Process, I focus on the process of going from blank page to polished email, letters and reports, not on spelling and grammar. That’s a whole other book. So it’s important to know what you are writing about–the breadth, depth and scope–before you put fingers to keyboard.
Where are your readers located? If you are targeting an American audience, use American spelling–even if you are not American. Also, use American examples and references. Use other examples only if they transcend boarders. The audience for my copywriting book is primarily Canadian because I use it for a copywriting course I teach for the University of Toronto. I can, however, refer to American ads because Canadians read American publications and watch American TV.
When will you book be published? Could the trends, factors, situations you’re covering change dramatically by time the book is published? Or will your references and examples stand the test of time?
To entertain, educate, inform, persuade your reader? If you don’t know, how will you achieve your purpose? Why would your reader be interested in your topic? Why your reader would want to read the book is more important than why you are writing it. If you want to sell books (people are not obligated to buy, after all), you should work to fulfill why readers want to read it.
HoW, often called the sixth W
How will you structure your book? How will you structure each chapter?
While all the W questions are important, how is crucial. I don’t start writing a book until I have the beginning, middle and end figured out. I first decide on the number of chapters, the working title for each chapter, and the subject matter of each chapter. I don’t start writing a book until I have a detailed outline of each chapter.
For the record, I don’t have a problem with authors who choose to write without an outline, figuring out where they are going and how they are going to get there. I just find that knowing how I am going to write my book–having a detailed chapter by chapter outline before I start to write–helps me write in a focused, efficient and effective manner.
If you want to be a focused, efficient, effective writer, I suggest you answer the W5, and hoW, before starting to write. And if you feel you need help with that, especially constructing a detailed chapter by chapter outline, then you are the who I wrote How to Write A Non-fiction Book in 60 Days for.
Answering the W5, you will find, will make the book-writing journey easier and more fun. And it should help make your final product as focused and effective as you can make it–a book that meets and exceeds the expectations of your reader and fulfills your purpose or reason for writing the book in the first place.
Paul Lima is a freelance writer, business-writing trainer and the author of a dozen books on copywriting, business writing and the business of freelance writing. You can learn more about him and his books at www.paullima.com.
“Stop Repeating; It’s Redundant,” She Said Again
by Norma Jean Lutz
Avoiding the Redundancy Trap
Okay, so the title is overkill. But hopefully it grabbed your attention. How easy it is for a careless writer to slip into the redundancy trap.
“Writing is clear thinking on paper.”
The above saying was drummed into my head early on in my writing life. It’s near the top of the list (if not the top), of how to write clearly is to steer clear of redundancies.
Definition of Redundant
In order to avoid that trap, it’s good to first understand what the term redundant means. Below are several variations of the definition:
- a exceeding what is necessary or normal : superfluous
- b characterized by or containing an excess; specifically using more words than necessary
- c characterized by similarity or repetition (a group of particularly redundant brick buildings)
- d chiefly British : no longer needed for a job and hence laid off
Since we’re talking about words and not buildings (or employees) we’ll stick with “b” — when writers/novelists use more words than necessary.
A Sneaky Culprit
Believe me it happens to all of us, no matter how many years we’ve been at this writing business. Redundancy is a sneaky culprit, lurking in the corners of your brain ready to fill out those seemingly weak sentences.
Clear writing is achieved by concise writing, as stated below:
“Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.” William Strunk, Jr., Elements of Style
“…but that every word tell.” I like that statement. We writers are wordsmiths. Our craft is writing and words are our tools. The best writers are those who have learned (and continue to learn) how to wield those tools like an expert.
Here’s an example of lazy writing:
Erik was truly paranoid. He honestly felt that every person was out to get him.
This heavy writing is made heavier by adding truly and honestly — they are truly redundant words. Right? The two sentences hold the same meaning which again adds to the heaviness of the writing. Concise it is not.
Let’s look at a few common redundancies:
- End result
- Exactly the same
- Past history
- Basic essentials
- New innovation
- Protest against
- Spell out in detail
You get the idea. Unnecessary words serve to bog down the text and muddle the meaning.
A Place for Repetition
Is there a place for repetition? Of course. When you are stressing a point. Or perhaps in ad copy when a declaration is repeated for emphasis. The skilled writer knows how to make repetition work for the intended purpose. The unskilled writer inadvertently lumps redundant words and phrases simply because of inattention, lack of expertise, or laziness.
Most readers could not tell you why a piece of writing is not effective — they just know. It’s the writer’s job to create clean, clear prose as a work of art. As Mr. Strunk alluded, clean writing is like a drawing with no unnecessary lines. The viewer of the art, and the reader of the prose, may admire each one, but the artist and the author remain invisible. Their techniques are subtle but powerful.
As you practice your craft of writing, whether it’s a blog, or an ebook, or a freelance assignment, or your beloved novel, strive for clarity.
Learn to make “every word tell.”
Norma Jean Lutz’s writing career spans over three decades, during which she produced more than 50 published books. She has served as a writing instructor, conference speaker, editor, and novel critique consultant. Writing for teens is her favorite genre. Learn more at her sites: www.NormaJeanLutz.com and www.BeANovelist.com and https://www.facebook.com/BeANovelist
What my friends want you to know
Conference on meaning
Psychologists have increasingly recognized that meaning is central to human functioning and well-being. Although people in the community may not be able to articulate what meaning is, they do experience deep satisfaction in meaningful activities and relationships, and they are interested in finding out how to live a worthwhile and fulfilling life.
Can psychology provide a roadmap that guides their search for meaning? This year we are hosting INPM’s 8th Biennial International Meaning Conference in Vancouver, July 24-27, to explore this topic. Though the literature on meaning is rapidly growing, it is still in a state of flux and confusion, with researchers defining and assessing meaning differently. There is an urgent need for conceptual clarity, valid measures, and synthesis of existing research findings, in order to advance the science of meaning and provide a practical guide for all those interested in meaningful living. Throughout the four days of Conference, numerous workshops, panel discussions, symposia, paper presentations and poster sessions will explore the fundamental issues of what makes life worth living. There will also be opportunities for informal discussions with speakers and other conference participants. If you are interested in exploring these issues with us, please visit www.meaning.ca/conference/ for details.
Recycled fashion parade
The Simple Science of Being
by Jim Chu
Illegal land grabs devastate environment and destroys local communities in New Guinea
My friend Amber works for Environment Victoria. She has started up a campaign about terrible things in New Guinea, where big business hopes the world isn’t watching. She has a petition open. Please check it out.
Sleeper, Awake by Dr R. Rich reviewed by Margaret Tanner
The Witch-Hunt Narrative: Politics, Psychology, and the Sexual Abuse of Children, by Ross Cheit reviewed by Ken Pope
Sleeper, Awake by Dr R. Rich
reviewed by Margaret Tanner
Included in the wonderful array of characters who dominate the pages of this novel are — Kiril Lander the inventor, Souda the love of his life, and the woman he almost loses because of his obsessive jealousy. Artif, the kindly computer and support system for the planet, the executive arm of humanity, who keeps everything in this futuristic paradise running smoothly. Mirabelle Karlsen, Abel T’Dwuna, Cynthia Sabatini, not to mention the enigmatic Tony, are all members of Control, the governing body of the planet.
The dilemma facing Control is what to do with the twenty first century sleepers who elected to be placed in cryogenic storage like Flora. Should they be awoken? Left to sleep? Or have their equipment disconnected so they could pass on?
Vividly written, Dr Rich’s writing transports you into a world beyond comprehension, yet he presents it so well, it becomes plausible. Wonderful landscapes, incredible gadgets, love and a touch of poignancy, this book has it all. Like me, if you weren’t a Sci-fi fan before, you will be converted after reading this book.
Margaret is overly modest about her accomplishments. She is an award-winning author of at least 16 historical romances, all gripping and well written.
The Witch-Hunt Narrative: Politics, Psychology, and the Sexual Abuse of Children, by Ross Cheit
reviewed by Ken Pope
I just finished reading a remarkable new book: The Witch-Hunt Narrative: Politics, Psychology, and the Sexual Abuse of Children.
Professor Ross Cheit is the author.
Oxford University Press is the publisher.
In my opinion, this is the most comprehensive, even-handed, scientifically-based, well-documented review of this complex area.
As I read this 508-page book, I was stunned at the painstaking work that must have gone into gathering all this original source material, integrating it, and presenting it in such a thoughtful, balanced, and readable form.
Cheit draws on the original depositions, trial transcripts, newspaper accounts, and interviews to uncover a remarkable array of previously overlooked facts and provides over 1,000 footnotes to his sources so that readers can check on his work.
He takes us from MacMartin Preschool and the other prominent 1980s cases through the Catholic Church and Penn State cases.
This landmark book will be essential to clinicians, attorneys, researchers, policy-makers, historians of science, and all those interested in or affected by child abuse.
Amazon has the book in stock and is offering it for $42.64 (a 14% discount).
Barnes & Noble currently offers the book as a pre-order for $42.64
3 COGNITIVE STRATEGIES THAT DENY, DISCOUNT, & DISMISS TORTURE:
HOW INDIVIDUALS, GROUPS, GOVERNMENTS, & CULTURES ENABLE TORTURERS:
Kenneth S. Pope, Ph.D., ABPP, is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) and a Diplomate in Clinical Psychology. He chaired the Ethics Committees of the American Psychological Association and the American Board of Professional Psychology, and received the American Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Public Service.
An offering to the collective of humanity
by Peter Faithfull
Peter’s mother Elisabeth passed away after a long, adventurous but pain-filled life. This is his tribute to her.
We gather here today, on the occasion of the making of ancestors.
In this moment in time.
We, who are yet to follow, do acknowledge our love for those we hold dear.
And for those who have now passed.
That we do hereby swear to hold true, our care of each other, and those who are yet to come.
For our very lives are the making of our ancestors.
It is they who we honor with our deeds of kindness and humanity.
This is the thread that weaves its pattern throughout the ages.
No matter what creed or kind our source may be,
This is the tapestry of our lives.
A bit of fun
Cartoon: Seppo Leinonen
I am Seppo Leinonen, a cartoonist and illustrator from Finland. I was born in the city of Kajaani in 1957, and I have studied forestry and fine arts in Helsinki.
I live with my wife, three sons and two cats in a old wooden house in the countryside. I like to observe small and large creatures and phenomena in both nature and politics.
I take pleasure in walking or skiing in the woods, paddling or rowing along waterways, camping with my family, fishing and bird watching.
About Bobbing Around
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